Saturday, September 27, 2014


The summer was beautiful. Not only did New England weather cooperate 90% of the time, but LF and I spent 2+ magical months together.  He was excited, happy, and as cooperative as a toddler can be. Tantrums were few, the days were filled with field trips, and we grew incredibly close. So close, as times, it was to the exclusion of others. I felt almost guilty about how much I ate up all the mommy love.

I also made some new friends, saw some of my old friends, got a small amount of exercise, blogged a bit, got things done, made phone calls, wrote emails, had play get the idea.

But, like all good things, it had to come to an end.

I knew my return to my classroom would change things. I thought I was prepared for those changes.

I wasn't.

These days I am having a very hard time keeping my head above water with my classroom, my home, and everything in between. Returning communications of all kind takes days (or weeks) and I feel a pretty constant guilt as a result. 

Mostly though, I can not describe how much I miss my boy. I know he is in good hands with his grandparents while I work, but it just isn't the same. Getting daily email updates of his adventures, moods, and meals just isn't the same as being there myself.

But it isn't just missing him that is making me sad.

Somehow in the transition of me going back to work, the mommy love has been dialed down. A lot. It has been replaced with more frequent tantrums and a sudden shift in affection. It seems as though we are firmly in a daddy love phase right now. As much as I am thrilled that LF is back to being attached at the hip with KG, I wish he would make some room for me. I know it is common, probably fleeting, and that I shouldn't take it personally. Still, it stings.

I'm trying hard not to pull the "I was in labor with you for 3 days with over 3 hours of pushing" card here. Okay, I guess I did just pull that card. But really, I just see these days as so fleeting. There will probably be years of LF not wanting anything to do with me (adolescence comes to mind). So, I'm feeling kind of desperate to squeeze every kiss and hug out of this kid right now.

So, I've been going out of my way to make more quality time with him. Trying to make every minute of our drastically reduced time together count.

Slowly, we will all readjust and the pendulum will find the middle, right?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Minority

If you are still in the TTC trenches, you may want to skip this post. Please take care of yourself.

When I first figured out I was infertile, I felt a deep sense of isolation.  Especially after my miscarriage. Of course, at the time, many friends were already pregnant and some already had children. I was one of the few in my circle who was trying without success. There was so much shame, embarrassment, and envy. Every time I secretly found out someone I knew was also infertile, it felt like a covert mission to let her know, "Me too! Me too!" The blogosphere became my safe place. It also became the source of several very close friendships that remain so crucial for me to this day. But the source of that closeness always has a hint of sadness. Because, when you make friends under such awful circumstances, there is that sense of knowing that the issue that brought you close remains, on the back burner.

Then, there was Little Fab. With our miracle baby, we agreed to hope for/try for at-least-one-more miracle, to make our family complete. We both have siblings. We want a sibling(s) for LF. Done.

As I adjusted to motherhood, some of that isolation from infertility went away. My focus was totally changed, and the kind of support I needed was as well. Instead of needing to crawl my way through infertility, I could put all of that on hold. I could focus on becoming the parent I want to be and on raising my sweet boy without worrying about injections, ultrasounds, and procedures. For the last two years, I've enjoyed leaning on both my existing circle of fantastic friends, as well as many new ones, in the best way. To feel a part of the community I so desperately wanted to join has been an amazing blessing.

But, lately I've been feeling some of that loneliness creeping back in. As more and more people I know (both infertile and not) have had or are pregnant with their second (and sometimes third) child, I find myself entrenched in self-doubt, uncertainty, and isolation. Again.

There are a few levels to these emotions. On the surface, there is the obvious: I am still infertile. I do not ovulate. My ovaries are ridiculously dormant without injectable medication. My PCOS did not magically resolve after the birth of my boy. Really, nothing has changed on that front. Secondly, we are lucky enough to have some frozen embryos in storage. But, there is no guarantee that an FET will work. It is all a taxing, emotional, physical gamble. Thirdly, there is also a new financial consideration to this, thanks to changes to my insurance. (Even though I live in a state where infertility coverage is mandated, that does not mean we do not have huge deductibles and fees.)

But, those aren't the core issue.

The real problem is that I am not 100% sure I can do this again, or that I want to. I may be imagining this, but somehow I feel like because I am an infertile, I am supposed to want as many children as I can possibly carry. I am supposed to go right back into the game, blazing with enthusiasm.

Except, I'm not.

Having LF has been the most rewarding and amazing experience of my life. I love this kid with my entire heart. He is a piece of me, walking running around on two legs. He is smart, beautiful, funny, charming, and everything else you could want in a child.

But, I have no words for how much I underestimated how tough parenting would be - especially the first year. There was reflux. There were no naps. There was crippling postpartum depression and anxiety. There is STILL postpartum anxiety. There was a deep sense of losing myself and not knowing how to get myself back. I ended up back in intensive therapy and worked very hard to regain some semblance of a normal life.

As LF has gotten a little older, many of those issues resolved. He felt better. I felt better. Life stabilized and has actually gotten really fun.

We are happy.

What if adding another baby fucks all of that up? What if I fall back into that hole? What if there is not enough of me to go around?

I feel like the clock is ticking, too. If we start the FET process next spring (the current plan), LF will be around 4 (maybe a little less, maybe more) when another baby is born, assuming it is successful. That is less age difference than my sister and I have, but more than many first and second siblings. Will they get along? Will they hate each other? Again, you never know. We are constantly asked, "So when are you going to go for #2?" Like we are not meeting the schedule we are supposed to be on.

I'm embarrassed to admit these feelings and certainly know how lucky I am to have what I have. I know so many people don't have a choice about this. But there it is. Every time we are on the playground (or with friends with more than one kid) I see mothers doing it - spreading their love, attention, and energy to multiple children. I constantly sit and ask myself how they do it. How do they look so together? How are they standing without an IV of caffeine?

I feel really alone with these emotions, like I am once again in the minority. Most moms want another baby. Most infertiles would kill to have another. Right?

So what the hell is wrong with me?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Rules

I've broken a few rules in my day. You wouldn't guess to look at me now, the suburban mom I am, but it's true.

There were tattoos, punk shows, illegal substances, and various other daring adventures that made my younger years a tad exhilarating.

But really, when it comes down to it, I am a pretty straight and narrow kind of person at heart. Even while I was engaging in all that fun stuff, I worked, got good grades, graduated college and grad school, and generally showed what a responsible citizen I was.

I can't help it - I always really want to do what's right, no matter what the situation. I want to follow through on what is expected of me. To be truthful, I get annoyed when others don't.

I use my turn signal.
I wear my seat belt.
I show up on time.
I answer emails promptly. Mostly.

I. Follow. Rules.

Hell, I usually fess up to KG about tiny infractions, just to ease my conscience. I have a serious Jiminy Cricket inside of me, for better or for worse.

I've written before about how much of a test parenting is. Parents are constantly faced with open-ended problems that have no simple solution, only a "do whatever you think is best" type of response.

It starts during pregnancy with: "How much weight should you gain? "What should you eat/not eat?" Then there is the: "Will you breastfeed? Will you cloth diaper? Will you co-sleep? Will you practice Attachment Parenting?" Then it moves to: "Will you sleep train/CIO? When will you start solids? Will you do purees or Baby Led Weaning?" There are no rules on these things. You are supposed to just go on gut feeling. Really, it's anarchy. This drove my rule-driven sensibility insane.

On other things baby-related, there are some rules, or at least guidelines. Those pesky emails from fun parenting resource websites love to remind me of these.
Is your baby doing...?
Has your child started...?
Have you stopped...?

You know, just to make me slightly more paranoid about meeting expectations than I already am.

There are many rules I follow, especially about sleep, sunblock, and general safety related things. Those are non-negotiable. But some things, I'm figuring out, I need to be less rigid about in order to make our day to day work for all of us.

So here it goes:

Well, annoying-parenting-website-who-shall-remain-nameless: we are breaking some rules in our house. Gasp. 

I confess: my son is over 12 months (18 and a half thank you) and we are still on 2 bottles a day, morning and bedtime. And...he doesn't hold his own bottle. Never has and probably never will. We cuddle and he drinks his milk. And yes, we've tried sippy cups of milk and it is a no go.

The horror.

Confession 2: We eat snacks (and sometimes meals) while playing, and not in the high chair. Yup, he grabs a bite, plays, rinse, repeat. Does it make a mess? Yes. Does he eat more snack this way than trying to get him in the high chair 5 times a day? Yes.  If I can get him to eat in the chair 2-3 times a day I feel victorious.

Chaos I tell you.

Confession 3: We do screen time under the age of 2. There is Sesame Street. There is Curious George. There is Max and Ruby. There is Bubble Guppies. Not all day, but enough so KG and I can shower, make coffee, and get dressed. 

How dare we!

I could go on, but you get the idea.

That doesn't mean I don't have guilt about these things. Clearly, I am writing about them here, purging myself. But maybe I need to ease up on myself a bit, as several people from my mother's generation have told me. I've been such a stickler for rules my whole life, but times are changing. I am changing.

Who knew I had it in me?

What are the parenting "rules" that you break?

Monday, June 30, 2014

A New Rhythm

Something I learned right away when I was on maternity leave was that being a SAHM was WAY harder than working outside the home. At least for me it was. I have nothing but respect for those women who stay home. My hat is off to you!

Although it is not a choice for us for financial reasons, I enjoy being a working mother most of the time.  It is something that is really important to me as a part of my identity, and I think also helps me to be a balanced person. I'm lucky that I am in a profession that allows me time off for summer, and two other longish school breaks during the year. In a way, I get the best of both worlds. I get to pursue my career, and still have stretches of time that are devoted to my boy.

But, I must admit, I got nervous as summer approached. I think whenever I realize I am going to be home full time, I flash back to how hard LF's infant days were. Now, he is no longer an infant, but the change in routine always throws me for a loop for a while. I know that as a mother I am supposed to want to spend every moment with my kid, but I'll say it: sometimes it makes me anxious. It is no secret I am not the world's most confident mother, and being someone who THRIVES on routine and predictability doesn't exactly make me excited for big changes. But, as the season got started, I have to say I'm really enjoying the copious amounts of time LF and I are spending together.

In the last few weeks, I have really started to see some things I miss while I'm in my classroom. I'm almost embarrassed to say, I've learned a lot about him in a short time, that I didn't know before. I mean, when our time together is limited to a couple of hours in the afternoon and weekends, you miss some things.

Good thing I'm a fast learner. I've learned how to head off some major tantrums (who knew holding the bubble wand could cause this?), what time he gets antsy to get out of the house, and how he needed to be taught how to play in sand among other things. I've watched him gain confidence on the playground and noticed he is picking up vocabulary at an astonishing rate. But, if I wasn't home to hear him mimic me, or help him climb a ladder structure, I would miss it. It just isn't the same as being filled in by his grandparents at the end of a long work day.

What makes me heart squeeze even more is the growth in attachment and bond we've had since mid-June. I mean, he always prefers KG and I to everyone else, and he always gives kisses and hugs. But, lately, there is just a deeper bond between us. He will more openly seek me out when he falls, calls my name from the back seat, plays a new game of jumping in my lap, and eagerly rubs noses before bed. It is a subtle difference, but it is there. I know some of you might be thinking, "So what? He's your baby? Don't all babies do that?" Well, LF isn't the most cuddly of all kids and is in CONSTANT motion. I feel very special when this kid chooses me to be his most sweet self with.

There is also a level of sadness to this: will the closeness decrease when I return to work in September? Will he remember all our afternoons taking walks in our new neighborhood? Will he still ask for me during the day, when I'm not his primary weekday caregiver? I'm feeling some serious guilt here that so much of this information about LF is new to me.

Do you have some working mom guilt?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Picky or problem?

I visited a friend with a newborn the other day and we discussed the feeling of isolation that can come when you are home with a baby. The demands, the worries, the sleep deprivation, and the lack of social contact are intense on those first months, and I was lending support with as much listening (okay, and some advice) as I could. What I didn't want to tell her is that there are still moments when you have that overwhelming alone feeling.

I have some friends who know this feeling well. For whatever reason, your child may have an issue that puts them outside of the norm in one way or another. For some children, this is a more substantial challenge (like an obvious medical or developmental issue) and for others it may be something more subtle. Although the subtle issues with children may not be life threatening, they can still throw us newbie parents for a loop.

Lately, the issue that is making me feel alone and worried is LF's picky eating.

I should say first that LF has an incredibly stubborn (I mean independent! Assertive! Intelligent!) personality and this finickiness affects not only his food choices but also his choices about which room he plays in, which books he reads, whether he wants to go inside or outside, which direction we walk on the street, etc. The boy has an opinion about nearly everything. You also may remember that the beginning of his eating career did not go smoothly (breastfeeding disasters, medicated reflux until 9 months, and an unenthusiastic transition to solid foods).

Since we started solids, he has never been a kid to dive in head first with foods. He is very cautious about new foods in general. However, he used to eventually try something and add to his repertoire, even if it wasn't kale and quinoa. More like meatballs and chicken nuggets. I even have photographic evidence of him enjoying messy foods like pasta bolognese, which he currently won't touch. Now, it is rare for us to get him to try and like a new food, and even more rare for him to like something multiple times, and not just once. But, what has me most concerned is that over time, the number of foods he will eat has actually decreased. Foods he used to enjoy he is now refusing and the number of foods consumed overall is quite small. When I Google "toddler food ideas" I know instantly that he will refuse almost all of them. I am beginning to think his picky eating is now morphong into "problem eating."

But, it is really hard for me to tell what is a real issue with food, and what is he taking as an opportunity to assert his independence. I admit it - I get upset when he lets food fall out of his mouth or throws it on the floor. I get mad when he refuses things I know he likes, even when he is so hungry that he is going nuts. Sometimes I am more successful at being casual about all of that, and sometimes I lose it. But, he doesn't just do this with me. He also is difficult with his grandparents (who are his main caregivers during the school year) and his father. He can sometimes surprise us in social situations, but at home it seems to be the worst.

Then there is that alone part. It comes in when I see other mothers able to easily hand their child a sandwich, which is then quickly devoured. Or, when I talk about this issue with someone who responds with, "My child will eat anything!! I can't keep enough food in the house!" I know every child has *some* issue they are dealing with - sleep, behavior, whatever. This just happens to be LF's.

But, I just feel like there is something I am doing wrong with LF that is making him so difficult at meal times. All I know is that something needs to change.

Am I creating a monster and having my emotion feed into his control issues? Or is there a real issue to push with my pediatrician? (We've discussed his pickiness before and they never seem very concerned.)

What parenting issue made you feel alone?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

One among many

I've been reading many blog posts (like Cristy's) about being absent from blogs. About feeling detached from the places that we used to find so important and personal.  About being unsure about what is "okay" to post. About what would alienate those still working on becoming a mom.

This post joins many others on the same topic.

I'm struggling to reconnect and find my blogging voice again. I want very deeply to express all that has happened since December: all my thoughts on how I'm evolving as a person and as a parent, the current status of my infertility, and thoughts about the future. But, there is something that always stands in my way of posting.

When I think about how long it has been since I've blogged, I am deeply embarrassed. How could I let nearly 6 months go by? How could this place which was my saving grace for so long become so neglected?

Every time I find a few minutes to sit down and write, I am hit with some nagging negative thoughts. Have I have lost all my readers? Do I still have something important to say? Does writing about my clever, independent, funny, and stubborn toddler have a place in this blog?

I'm still following many of you who made the transition to motherhood (in whatever way worked), and many who are still in the trenches. You are doing it - you are writing in a way that acknowledges both sides of your readership. It can be done. I am just trying to convince myself that I can still be relevant to my original readers, as well as perhaps some new ones.

There is only one way for me to make my return to blogging. To start writing, and start becoming a part of the conversation on your blogs as well.

I think some revamps to my blog's design might also help the investment factor. I had a friend do the original template, but I think I need a new look. However, I was born without the pinterest gene and have no idea where to start.

So let's start with a question: do you do your own blog design? How do you get inspired? What resources do you use?

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Happy Birthday Baby Boy

Dear LF,
Today is your first birthday and KG and I are in total disbelief that you have gotten so big, so fast. The cliche about time standing still and speeding by simultaneously is absolutely true. We've watched you start to turn into a determined, funny, smart, and independent little boy right before our eyes. I can't properly articulate how deeply I love you. It is a part of my heart I never knew existed. Even on your toughest days, I just want to hold you close and get down on my knees with thanks that you exist - that we were able to make you and bring you into the world. I know you will someday hate having to share your birthday with Christmas, but you just couldn't wait one more minute to join the party. I could list all your new tricks one by one, but the only trick that matters is that you are here: a smiling, giggling, sometimes whining, sometimes yelling, but always individual perfect little being.

I love you - so, so much. Happy Birthday.